Whether you’re seeking physical, legal, or sole custody of your child, there’s no debate that child custody hearings are stressful and often emotionally driven. It’s understandable why so many parents have a hard time navigating custody cases. Moreover, the outcome of the case can be difficult to cope with. All that said, you’re probably performing all the research you can to ensure you win the case. However, unless there are obvious reasons a child shouldn’t be with one of the parents, there’s often no such thing as “winning” a custody case. Typically, both parties must be willing to compromise to some extent. That said, there are some common mistakes that could hurt your child custody case.
Refusing To Cooperate With the Other Parent
Arguably the most detrimental trait you could demonstrate during child custody cases is an unwillingness to cooperate. As mentioned previously, in most cases, both parents will have to learn to compromise. Don’t confuse refusal to cooperate with confrontation, as the judge will expect some confrontation as long it’s respectful and reasonable. On the other hand, if your ex is refusing to cooperate and it’s not reasonable, you would likely benefit from their behavior.
Preventing the Other Parent’s Visitation Without a Reasonable Cause
Whether it’s you or your ex that’s due for visitation, the parent cannot withhold visitation without a reasonable cause or court order. The judge recognizes that life happens and you may get a flat tire that keeps you from bringing the child for visitation. If you clearly communicate that you’re not withholding visitation and the reason why in a timely manner, it is typically excusable. Alternatively, if you are actively keeping your ex from seeing their child, there could be serious consequences. It doesn’t matter if your ex hasn’t paid child support or you both had a fight; you cannot keep the child without a court order or plausible reason.
Failing To Pick Up Your Child From Visitation on Time or Altogether
In relation to the previous point, the judge may have granted you visitation. If it is your turn for visitation, you’ll probably need to meet the other parent somewhere to pick up your child. If you pick the child up late or never show up consistently, it can severely hurt your custody case. Again, the judge will generally understand if you were a few minutes late or if there was a misunderstanding in scheduling. The judge won’t understand, however, why you’re in a custody case where you fail to arrive on time or at all. Not only does frequent tardiness or absences show a level of carelessness, it almost certainly indicates someone is unfit to be a parent. If that’s the case, you’re going to be the favorable parent in the case.
Bad-Mouthing the Other Parent
Words can speak loudly in a custody case. For instance, if you’re regularly speaking poorly about your ex, the judge and attorneys will make note of it and use it against you. Regardless of what the other parent says or does, it’s better to take the high road and be the bigger person in most scenarios. The law recognizes that children almost always benefit from having both parents in the picture. With that in mind, you must be able to respect your ex. Bad-mouthing doesn’t help in a relationship, a divorce, and especially not in a child custody case; be the parent your child deserves.
Failure To Make Child Support Payments
Assuming you or your ex weren’t temporarily pardoned because of a job loss, medical emergency, or other reasonable cause, missing child support payments can harm your custody case. If you merely don’t pay without a plausible reason, the judge will likely interpret that as carelessness. Any parent that demonstrates negligence or disinterest in a custody case will significantly reduce their chances of gaining the outcome they want. In severe cases, the judge may determine that the parent who is neglecting payments without a logical reason doesn’t deserve visitation at all.
Arguing With Your Ex in Front of Your Child
While this may vary depending on the state in which the case is occurring, the State of Illinois allows children 14 or older to choose which parent to reside with. The judge may override the child’s decision, but the point is that you want your child to see you as the better parent—especially if they’re 14 or older. One of the quickest ways to damage the relationship between you and your child is arguing with their other parent in front of them. Of course, you and your ex have your differences, but that doesn’t give you the go-ahead to fight and speak hurtful words to each other in the presence of your child.
Being Foolish on Social Media
The majority of people have social media accounts, but what most people don’t realize is that their behavior and posts can harm them legally. In a custody battle, you must demonstrate and prove that you’re the more suitable parent. If your social media accounts have pictures of you partying frequently or degrading your ex, your social media is working against you. Likewise, if you notice your ex is sharing immature photos or posts, you may be able to use that to your advantage.
At Schiller DuCanto & Fleck, our attorneys take pride in the fact that we all work for our client’s betterment. If you’re looking for a Chicago child custody lawyer, we’ve got you covered on all fronts, including visitation and even international custody cases. We want the best for you and your children, so don’t hesitate to contact us today to set up an appointment with one of our experienced attorneys.